What's The Difference Between Combat And Noncombat Troops?

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States is on schedule to end combat operations in Iraq by Aug. 31. However, a residual force of at least 50,000 "noncombat" troops will remain in Iraq for the next year. So what exactly are noncombat troops?Whatever you want them to be. The distinction is more political than military. The White House says the remaining troops will "train and advise Iraqi Security Forces; conduct partnered and targeted counter-terrorism operations; and protect ongoing U.S. civilian and military efforts." All of this has the potential to involve quite a bit of combat. When asked about the distinction, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last year that thought the units in Iraq will still have combat capability, "the notion of being engaged in combat in the way we have been up until now will be completely different. "It's true that the majority of U.S. troops left in Iraq will rarely leave base, but that's already the case. However, the units involved are certainly prepared for combat should the need arise. For instance, the first division deployed in support of the new noncombat mission -- which the Obama administration decided in February to rechristen Operation New Dawn -- is the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Division, and armored cavalry unit. The remaining U.S. troops will participate in combat patrols with Iraqi forces. (This isn't new. According to the U.S. military, independent operations have not been carried out for several months, and the Iraqi government's approval of any combat mission has been required since the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement.) U.S. special operations troops will continue, in partnership with Iraqi forces, to conduct counterterrorism raids against insurgent groups. Additionally, Iraqi forces are still largely dependent on the United States for air support, artillery and medical assistance.